Chapter Thirty-seven

How to Win Friends and Influence Hoodlums

To maintain contacts with persons linked to organized crime. LaRouche had to justify it first to his own followers. This turned out to be not very hard to do: LaRouche simply announced that "many of the persons and circles which are reputed to be associated with the Mafia are good people." These "good" mobsters, he explained, personally disapprove of the drug traffic but are infected with a pragmatism that causes them to continue to make deals and keep peace with the Zionist ("Drug Mafia") wing of organized crime. LaRouche claimed to have met with a "top official" of the Laborers Union to convince him to break with the Zionist drug pushers, but without success. This official, along with other members of the "good" faction, refused to understand that the Brilab prosecutions were an attempt by the "bad" Mafia in alliance with the government to destroy the good Mafia and take over the latter’s empire. The good Mafia could defeat this Zionist plot only by taking the offensive--by turning the courtroom fight into a political fight. But because of its pragmatism, the good Mafia was reluctant to do this. The NCLC therefore would have to do it for them. Indeed, the NCLC was their "last political bastion of resistance." If it should fail in its historic task, then the "honest trade-unionists" linked to the good Mafia (e.g., the Laborers and Teamsters) would "be picked off by [Justice Department] task-forces like flies."

This was all for internal NCLC consumption. Doubtless the proposition was put to the organization's new "Sun Belt allies" in a more businesslike fashion. Certainly in the NCLC's public attacks on Brilab there was no mention of good or bad Mafias, only of honest trade unionists. This was most noticeable in the two cases involving really big organized crime figures: the New Orleans indictment of Marcello for conspiring to bribe public officials and the Miami indictment of Trafficante, Accardo, Fosco, and thirteen co-conspirators for labor racketeering. New Solidarity carefully avoided mentioning the names of Marcello, Trafficante, and Accardo. Instead, it mentioned only the indicted union officials, whom it described as victims of "the most widespread witch-hunt ever attempted against American labor."

Once again, LaRouche was using code language--"labor" for Mafia, just as earlier he had used "British" for Jewish--to sanitize a morally repulsive message. He was also borrowing Jimmy Hoffa's old tactic of depicting racketeering prosecutions as an employer attack on the labor movement, akin to strikebreaking and lockouts. This pseudo-militant dodge used class-against-class rhetoric in an attempt to divert the labor movement's (and the public's) attention away from the real issues at trial.

In March 1981, New Jersey Teamster boss Tony Provenzano's brothers, Sammy and Nuncio, went on trial in Newark federal court for racketeering. Despite the massive evidence of Mafia control of many New Jersey locals, and irrespective of Tony Pro's multiple convictions for murder, extortion, and racketeering (he was serving a life sentence), New Solidarity portrayed all three brothers as labor martyrs. The trial of Sammy and Nuncio was a "shocking farce." The Justice Department was "attempting a classic frame-up." The jury was presented with the "spectacle" of "bought-and-paid-for" witnesses. When Nuncio was convicted, this was proof of the "near impossibility" of labor leaders receiving a fair trial in the face of the Justice Department's "politically motivated" vendetta. (Nuncio was sentenced to ten years, Sammy Pro was found guilty in a subsequent racketeering trial and sentenced to four years. In 1984, federal judge Harold Ackerman ordered that their Local 560 be placed in the hands of a trustee. The Provenzanos had engaged, he said, in "a multifaceted orgy of criminal activity.")

Another of New Solidarity's alleged witch-hunt victims was Frank Sheeran, president of Teamster Local 326 in Wilmington, Delaware. This was the same Frank Sheeran who, according to federal investigators, drove to the Pontiac, Michigan, airport on the morning of July 30, 1975 (the day Jimmy Hoffa disappeared) to pick up three Genovese crime family enforcers. In September 1979 a Philadelphia grand jury charged Sheeran with two murders, four attempted murders, embezzlement, and a bombing, naming Pennsylvania crime bosses Russell Bufalino and Angelo Bruno as unindicted co-conspirators. Although Sheeran was acquitted in this trial, he was indicted shortly afterward in Wilmington on labor racketeering and mail fraud charges. New Solidarity denounced the Delaware prosecution as a "frame-up attempt" and the chief government witness as a "rat." Failing to inform its readers of the substance of the charges in either the Philadelphia or the Wilmington case, New Solidarity hailed Sheeran as "a labor leader committed to policies of growth and development for the United States." Sheeran and NCLC Baltimore leader Larry Freeman held a press conference. After complaining about the alleged frame-up, Sheeran gave Freeman the floor to attack the International Socialists, a small non-Communist sect active in the TDU. Freeman accused the group of plotting with the government to undermine Sheeran and other "respected and traditional labor leaders." But in October 1981 a federal jury found Sheeran guilty on eleven counts, including conspiracy, labor racketeering, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and taking bribes from an employer. He was sentenced to eighteen years in federal prison.

While engaging in this dubious propaganda campaign in 1981, the LaRouchians were gaining Executive Intelligence Review interviews with cabinet members and top Republican lawmakers in Washington. EIR obtained an interview with Senator Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), chairman of the Senate Labor Committee. The interviewer asked Hatch leading questions about Brilab in an attempt to elicit answers that could be useful to the anti-Brilab campaign or that would show that the LaRouchians had clout with the senator. But Hatch artfully ducked the questions and gave innocuous answers.

The NCLC launched the Committee Against Brilab and Abscam (CABA) to solicit funds from people with a vested interest in stymieing the federal strike forces. (Abscam, short for "Arab scam," was the code name for a series of FBI bribery sting operations targeting members of Congress and utilizing an FBI agent dressed as an Arab sheikh.) A press statement by the Detroit-and-Houston-based committee announced that a "prestigious roster of labor leaders" had joined CABA's advisory board. Heading the list was Rolland McMaster, followed by IBT Joint Council 65 leader Bill Bounds (who later said his name had been used without permission) and several construction union officials.

The advisory board's "Statement of Principles" included an affirmation of support for a CABA "Trust" which would solicit funds to provide defendants with legal assistance and to "research background material and provide investigators for attorneys and publications." (The "investigators," naturally, were to come from the NCLC Security staff in New York and the McMaster-linked Detroit NCLC.) The first public advocacy pamphlet was entitled Brilab-Abscam: Union-Busting in America. Filled with vigorous denunciations of "snitches" and "stool-pigeons," it warned that Brilab was part of an undeclared war against the "American System," orchestrated by the Trilateral Commission and other Eastern Establishment forces. "The targeted victims...are America's unionized workers and their friends in business and politics--the machinery that makes America work," the pamphlet claimed, adding that "no crime in more organized than that run by the U.S. Justice Department [and] its 13 Organized Crime Strike Forces." Ironically, this pamphlet was a reprint from Investigative Leads, a newsletter produced in the same offices as the National Anti-Drug Coalition's War on Drugs magazine. The editor of Investigative Leads at the time, Michelle Steinberg, doubled as an editor of War on Drugs.

One of CABA's first public activities was an October 1980 press conference in New Orleans, a city where the LaRouchians had never been active before. The event can be seen as a gesture of support for Marcello, the most important local Brilab defendant. NCLC member Tim Richardson told reporters that CABA already had raised $35,000, mostly from national labor unions. He declined to say if any of the New Orleans defendants had accepted the group's offers of aid, but apparently they had, because a second New Orleans press conference was staged in March 1981. Richardson was again the spokesman, and called on President Reagan to end Brilab. He also called the Justice Department's principal witness a "pathological liar." The following August a federal jury found Marcello guilty of conspiring to bribe a public official to gain millions of dollars in state insurance contracts. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. New Solidarity complained that he had been "entrapped."

Marcello's co-defendants included his longtime friend I. Irving Davidson, who was acquitted on all counts. Davidson, a self-described Washington "door opener and arranger," had been in touch with the LaRouchians since the mid-1970s and was regarded by them as a key contact. But he recalls being surprised when they showed up in New Orleans. "I never introduced them to people there," he asserted, adding that neither he nor Marcello became involved with the Brilab committee, which he said was financed by "a certain branch of the Teamsters." Davidson said his own frequent meetings with the LaRouchians were merely to pick their brains and purchase intelligence reports. He admitted that Mitch WerBell had occasionally been present at these meetings, but only in a security capacity.

Although Davidson denied ever introducing the LaRouchians to anyone big, he was a useful contact simply to chat with. He knew the Teamsters well, having been Jimmy Hoffa's public relations man. In 1959, he joined with Hoffa and Bill Presser to sell arms to Fulgencio Batista on behalf of the CIA. In the 1960 presidential election, he served as Hoffa's emissary to top aides of Richard Nixon and Democratic vice presidential candidate Lyndon Johnson. He later received a $13.5 million real estate loan from the Central States Pension Fund.

The LaRouchians also offered their services to Brilab defendants in Houston. An indicted Operating Engineers Union official accepted, and his attorney told the Houston Post that information gathered by CABA against a prosecution witness would be used in the defense. Other defendants turned them down. A spokesman for the Harris County (Houston) AFL-CIO denounced CABA as the tool of "cheap muscle people." By the summer of 1981, CABA's Houston phone number was disconnected and the group henceforth was run solely out of Detroit, where its phone number was listed under the name and address of one Larry Sherman, an NCLC leader who had just moved from Boston. Sherman was a strange choice to lead a campaign against alleged government frame-ups and vendettas. Four years earlier, the Boston media had exposed how he tried to frame members of the Clamshell Alliance, an antinuclear group, by feeding the New Hampshire State Police reports of nonexistent terrorist plots.

The Detroit NCLC began publishing the American Labor Beacon, a pro-CABA newsletter. Edited by Sherman, the first issue was mailed free to Teamster and AFL-CIO locals throughout the country. Union leaders were then called and asked to subscribe. The Beacon asked its readers to donate to CABA. It said that although direct contributions to CABA could not lawfully be made from union funds, such funds could be applied lo the purchase of "educational materials." Potential contributors were assured that CABA was "not obligated to report donors" to the government.

The Beacon featured a "Rat of the Month" column targeting prosecutors such as Thomas Puccio of the Brooklyn Organized Crime Strike Force and various witnesses from the Federal Witness Protection Program (collectively referred to as "slime from the gutter"). The newsletter also announced a "Rat of the Decade" award for Walter Sheridan, former chief investigator for the McClellan Committee. Quoting Jimmy Hoffa, the Beacon called Sheridan a "slimy, sleazy rat."

CABA and the Beacon were closely linked to Renaissance Printing, the Detroit firm incorporated by the NCLC's local leader, Kenneth Dalto, and two associates. For several years Renaissance had done printing work for the NCLC and the Michigan Anti-Drug Coalition, as well as the Teamsters and other outside clients. Gradually, the Detroit LaRouche network had been drawn into the activities of Rolland McMaster, developing what New Solidarity would later allege were an "array of mafioso connections." The various McMaster-Dalto-NCLC forays into Teamster politics were the surface manifestation of this alliance. The president of Renaissance, Scott Elliot, had been the treasurer of the "Teamster" Committee to elect LaRouche President, which circulated McMaster's 1979 endorsement of LaRouche. Elliot later worked with Larry McHenry, a McMaster sidekick, on a scheme to get TDU leader Pete Camarata expelled from Local 299 for allegedly violating its bylaws; they succeeded in getting him placed on probation. The two also appeared on local television to attack the TDU.

In 1980, Renaissance obtained a major infusion of capital that LaRouche later alleged came from organized crime. Elliot and his associates then launched a national financial printing operation under the name Computype, with headquarters at Renaissance. They opened branches in seven cities, leased state-of-the-art equipment for facsimile transmission, and began soliciting business from energy companies in the South and Southwest. Like other financial printers, much of their work included circulating confidential drafts of tender offers and stock prospectuses to principals involved in the transactions.

As of 1981, Renaissance claimed 150 accounts, but its growth proved to be a disaster for LaRouche. It gave Dalto and his associates a large degree of independence from the NCLC national office. They began to chafe under political directives from New York that seemed always to clash with their new interest in getting rich. They bought new cars and affected the flowery shirts popular among Teamster officials. They studied books on franchising. Elliot even asked his attorneys for a crash course in offshore banking.

LaRouche became suspicious in the summer of 1981. He had cracked down on Computron six months previously for placing profits before politics, and he now had some probing questions to put to Dalto and Elliot. The Detroit LaRouchian leaders could see the handwriting on the wall. They decided to break away from the NCLC before LaRouche could drive a wedge between them and the Detroit rank and file. It is not known if McMaster provided them with advice based on his vast experience in the Byzantine world of Teamster politics. But so well did the Detroit faction plan its revolt that LaRouche and his vaunted Security staff were taken totally by surprise. In late October, LaRouche received a letter signed by almost the entire membership of the Detroit organization and by Computype employees in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and Boston--a total of 117 NCLC members--announcing their resignation from the NCLC and "all other LaRouche-affiliated organizations."

LaRouche responded with a flurry of internal memos intended to whip up his loyalists for a counterpunch against the Detroit "country and western" faction, so named because of their alleged fondness for popular instead of classical music. He claimed that Jewish financiers and mobsters, including, above all, the Detroit financier Max Fisher, had instigated the split. Using the vampire imagery so beloved by anti-Semites everywhere, LaRouche depicted the "Fisher-centered banking apparatus" as sinking its "dope-soaked teeth" into the Dalto group. Also blamed was the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B’rith: "We know how the ADL officials and others have been playing the game....We now know exactly how to proceed to crush this murderous filth."

LaRouche's memos that fall included amazingly indiscreet revelations about the 1980 New Hampshire campaign and the alleged mob role at Computype. LaRouche mentioned the hiring of Ferris in New Hampshire, the scheme to influence voters through a policy of "have a hundred-dollar bill," the pressure on the NCLC of "'advisers' in Southfield, Michigan," and alleged contacts with "'wise guys' assets" in Atlanta. He also discussed how the NCLC had deliberately developed a "'Mafia Connections' self-image" during the 1980 campaign and had used threats of Mafia violence to keep the membership in line. LaRouche said this policy had been a mistake, but he blamed it all on Dalto and Gus Kalimtgis. (NCLC defectors say it really was LaRouche's idea.) LaRouche was a bit nervous about the long-range consequences: "Under no circumstances discuss...the use of the 'Mafia Violence’ aura outside of the ranks of the membership...," he instructed NCLC members. "If you were to discuss this publicly, we would prematurely trigger [the] possibility of legal action."

However, LaRouche and his followers continued to use the very rhetoric he was criticizing. An NCLC memo boasted of a scheme to make trouble for Dalto with the Mafia. "It has been learned," the memo said, "that...Dalto was keeping a double set of [Computype] books to rip off a business contact in Chicago." The latter was described as a "so-called Mafia boss" and Dalto's "partner." LaRouche himself said: "Let the 'Mafia’ rub out Ken....Naturally, we shall not be reticent in mentioning to certain circles certain facts now documented in our possession. Let the creep sweat. Let him run. Let him choose his hiding place."

Associates of Dalto say the double set of books was a LaRouche fabrication, although they worried at the time that LaRouche might have concocted false evidence. No physical harm came to Dalto either from mobsters or from the LaRouchians. Yet there can be no doubt of the ferocity of LaRouche's fantasies as reflected in various jokes included in the NCLC daily briefings. In one joke Dalto ends up committing suicide. In another the "Chicago Mafia" plants a bomb under his "Lincoln Continental." In a third he arrives at the gates of Hell "wearing a new, custom-fitted pair of cement overshoes."

LaRouche also warned his loyalists that they'd better stay loyal: "Anyone who opposes my orders will, in the moral sense, be shot on the spot for insubordination....I am the 'boss.'" The statement confirmed the observation by NCLC defector Dave Phillips, in a document earlier that year, that LaRouche, with his emphasis on personal "fealty" and "'ecumenical'...Sun Belt ventures," had transformed the NCLC into a comic-opera version of a "Sicilian family business."

The Dalto faction's enterprises flourished after the split. Renaissance expanded to almost a hundred employees and attracted Drexel-Burnham and other Wall Street investment firms as clients. It also continued to print Teamster smear literature, although no longer a unionized shop. Dalto and his partners bought out "Frank Edwards" (the Chicago investor), but their unofficial deprogrammer, McMaster, remained as a behind-the-scenes influence. Renaissance executives went on vacations with him, and the firm eventually moved into a building he had purchased, where he kept his eye on the accounts. But there were also problems. Elliot and two other former LaRouchians sued Dalto for control. Two satellite offices had to be closed. Finally, in 1985 Renaissance entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had to lay off a majority of its staff.

The Dalto faction found it difficult to break with the old compulsive deceptiveness, which was as much a habit of their hoodlum friends as of the NCLC. When the Beacon editors received a letter from a building trades official asking them to "clarify" their relationship to LaRouche, their answer, published in the first Beacon issue after the split, blithely ignored their ten-year history of participation in the NCLC. "The Beacon has been dedicated to defending labor from its enemies within and without," they wrote. "After investigating [!] the LaRouche organization for a period of time [!], we have come to the conclusion that he and his organization fall into the category of 'enemies without.'"

Soon thereafter close cronies of Dalto began to feed investigative reporters tidbits about LaRouche, but avoided any revelations about their own faction's past. Although they claimed they were through with extremist politics and only wanted to operate their commercial enterprises in peace, they continued to run smear campaigns against union reformers. These activities were conducted through a variety of pre-split and post-split fronts: the Beacon News Service, Inform America, Environmental News Service, the Parity Foundation, Union Communications, and Intellico (the latter a self-styled private intelligence organization).

In 1982 Larry Sherman prepared an Intellico report for United Mine Workers Union president Sam Church regarding the latter's opponent in the upcoming union election, Richard Trumka. Purportedly based on a trip through the coal district and interviews with people in and around Trumka's campaign, the report included unsubstantiated allegations that he was linked to Communists. The report helped Church gain support from gullible outsiders, including the Moral Majority and Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. A major role in soliciting this outside support was played by Michael Doud Gill, a member of the Republican National Committee and a prominent Washington power broker. Meanwhile, Senator Orrin Hatch announced an investigation of charges (apparently Intellico's) of alleged subversive influences in the UMW and other unions. All this had no impact on the union rank and file, which gave Trumka a resounding victory.

The Dalto group became involved in Detroit Teamster elections in 1983, when international vice president Robert Holmes, a former rival of Rolland McMaster, faced a stiff election challenge from the TDU for control of his power base, Local 337. Holmes hired Richard Leebove, a Dalto/McMaster crony and former NCLC member, as a thousand-dollar-a-week "communications" aide. Leebove's specialty had always been the heavy-handed smear. In the late 1970s he had traveled around the Midwest delivering tirades against the TDU at meetings of Teamster locals. He had also displayed his talents as the spokesman for Citizens for Chicago, a LaRouchian front group that circulated scurrilous leaflets against Chicago mayor Jane Byrne in 1979-80 (the leaflets accused her of being controlled by the mob and of being married to a gigolo).

Leebove's role in the 1983 Teamster elections showed that the Dalto faction was still practicing LaRouchism without LaRouche, Smear articles appeared in the Local 337 News repeating previous NCLC charges against the TDU--for instance, that the Rockefeller family was funding it. One article implied falsely that Senator Hatch intended to launch an investigation of the TDU for subversive activity. Indirect attacks were leveled against the local's secretary-treasurer, TDU member Jerry Bliss, who was denied equal space to respond. Forged handbills appeared in Local 337 shops purporting to be from the TDU but containing material intended to embarrass the TDU candidates.

The hiring of Leebove underscored the opportunism that was always at the root of the Teamster/NCLC connection. In 1979, Holmes, as head of the Teamster joint council in Detroit, had supported the resolution condemning McMaster's so-called Teamster Committee to Elect LaRouche President, in which Leebove had been active. Now, in a situation in which Leebove's usefulness appeared to outweigh any potential embarrassment, Holmes was willing to deal,